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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Here Endeth the Lesson

As an elementary educator and adult educator I have always emphasized the importance of neat handwriting. I insist on it, much to the annoyance of students and their parents, and even sometimes my superiors. Neat handwriting indicates effort and pride in one's work.

I cannot count the number of parents who have complained to me about my strict adherence to this policy. Many have tried to persuade me to be lenient on their child, because, as they tell me, "I didn't have neat handwriting growing up." How unfortunate for them that no one cared enough to correct that.

Others have argued, "Handwriting isn't important anymore. We live in a digital world. Everything is done via computers." How unfortunate that no one cared enough to impress upon them the importance of a handwritten note.

I have even had parents bring papers to me insisting, "You marked number 3 wrong. Why?" And when I explain that I couldn't clearly read the answer, they say, "But I can read it." Do they plan to go through life with the child, translating his or her handwritten responses and notes for teachers, bosses, lovers, spouses?

The handwritten word is an important tool of communication, just like the spoken word or the typed word. If I mumbled, my ideas and information would be discounted as unintelligible. If my printer ran low on ink causing my wordprocessed page to not print crisply, no one would take time to decipher what letters or words should go in the gaps. Worse than those possibilities, however, people might misconstrue my meaning, attributing thoughts and words to me that I never expressed.

Likewise, the handwritten word, if messy and unreadable, can result in similar dismissals and misunderstandings. And today, after making this point for all these years, I can PROVE it.

This morning, at church, during the Prayers of the People, my husband kept glancing at me. He wore a sly little smile on his face. He rocked back on his heels, something he does when he's expecting accolades. Then the reader said, "We pray for those celebrating birthdays or anniversaries, especially Brad and Amy Adams, 18th wedding anniversary."

Today is my 18th wedding anniversary. My husband's name is Brad. BUT I am not AMY. I do not know who Amy is. He swears he wrote LUCY. He told me to check my self.

What matters more, I ask you, what the reader read from the page or what my husband swears he wrote?

Here endeth the lesson.

Lucy Adams is the author of two books: Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run and If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny.

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